Homo Aleator: a sociological study of gambling in western society.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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The subject of this thesis is the nature and form of gambling in western society. Unlike other academic studies, which approach the subject in piecemeal fashion and treat it as essentially problematic, this research aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of the activity by situating the phenomenological experience of modern gambling within a formal and historical framework, and examining it from a variety of theoretical perspectives.
This thesis is divided into five Chapters.
The first describes the historical development of the concept of chance and argues that, after a lengthy period in which it existed first as a sacred and later as an epistemological category, in the twentieth century chance was secularised and ascribed ontological status as an explanatory feature of the modern world.
In Chapter Two, a study of the historical development of gambling forms, the social affiliation of the various groups associated with them complements the outline of chance given in Chapter One. Here it is argued that the nature of these games reflected wider social attitudes towards the perception of randomness, and also the general configuration of the society in which they were played. The development of games from their genesis in divination ritual to their formation into a recognisably modern gambling economy, is also traced, and the historical specificity of their various forms examined.
The formal parameters and phenomenological experience of the gambling economy - the 'phenomenological sites' - is the subject of Chapter Three. It is argued that commercial organisation of games of chance in the late twentieth century is beginning to overcome the traditional stratification that for years has determined the social formation of gambling forms.
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